Talk:John Ross (Cherokee chief)

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Former good article nominee John Ross (Cherokee chief) was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
May 20, 2008 Good article nominee Not listed

Editing this Article[edit]

This page as become highly stable following a period of intensive edits which have created a balanced and detailed article on Ross's life and leadership. Attention should be focused on gaps in Ross's life and leadership, particularly following removal. Citations are being added for the information already in this article and new information should have citations as well. Jaedglass 16:26, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Accuracy of the painting[edit]

The painting looks odd. I don't know if Ross had markings on the right side of his face, but they look photoshoped or not part of the origional painting. Are there any other depictions of Ross, and can someone please add them if possible? Thanks Gloushire 03:29, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

As part of my revisions to this page I have changed the layout of the pictures and found an unblemished verison of the mared Ross painting. Jaedglass 04:00, 25 December 2005 (UTC)

Transition from Pathkiller to Ross[edit]

Are there any documents that someone can cite that show that Charles Hicks actually became principal chief with the death of Pathkiller? Gary Moulton writes in his biography of Ross that Hicks died two weeks after Pathkiller does not describe Hicks as having been principal chief with the death of Pathkiller. Ross' letter from his collected papers, which I cited in the Ross article indicate the successive losses of Pathkiller and Hicks left Ross as the sole leader of the nation, but also does not indicate that Hicks had been elevated to the role of principal chief.

I don't think it can be presumed that Hicks had accended to the role of principal chief simply because Pathkiller died. The closeness in proximity of their deaths raises the question of whether any formal decisions had been reached as to the new leadership structure and whether Hicks was physically capable of performing any act as principal chief.

If we cannot find some primary source that demostates that Hicks was principal chief for that two week period, I believe it is misleading for the information on this page to state that Hicks served as principal chief prior to Ross. I believe it is appropriate for those who have added this information to find some documentation or to change the succession box on the Ross page and rewrite the Charles R. Hicks page.

Sources document that Charles Hicks was Principal Chief for two weeks before his death; his brother William Hicks succeeded him; after a new government was formed by a constitution, Ross was elected Principal Chief the following year in 1828.Parkwells (talk) 03:34, 15 December 2011 (UTC)


The John Ross page has recently become a target of vandalism. I understand that there is some way to set the permissions so that only those people logged on to Wikipedia are permitted to make changes, but I do not know how to do this. I am interested to know if someone who is regularly watching this page can explain how to do this. J.G.

"Cherokee Moses"[edit]

The intro is well-written, and I thought the section previously under the subtitle "Cherokee Moses" would work well as part of it rather than warranting its own section. Due to the irony of the quote by which said subtitle took its name, I don't know that the phrase works as a sort of chapter of Ross' life. To state the obvious, McKenny's statement, which compares the Trail of Tears to the Hebrew Exodus, is ridiculous--being forced to leave the land of your "nativity" is not the same as escaping the land of your people's slavery. While Ross was esteemed by many Cherokee, he was certainly not looked to as a "Moses." Efrafra 06:30, 7 May 2007 (UTC)

I have returned the Cherokee Moses heading. The heading isn't about describing an era of his life, but offers the reader at the top of this entry an understanding of the importance of Ross as an historical figure. In many ways, Ross' life was about leadership, and the article discusses his life by narrating his rise in power and efforts to avoid removal.

From McKenny's perspective, Ross was leading the Cherokee Nation to freedom, and I suspect that Ross' efforts fighting removal in Washington must have struck McKenny as similar to Moses' interactions with Pharaoh and Ross' involvment in drafting a Cherokee constitution as Moses the law-giver. Moreover, McKenny saw no irony in casting the Cherokee Nation in the role of Hebrew slaves dispite the fact that the Cherokee were themselves owners of African slaves, that they moved their slave to Oklahoma, and ultimately joined the Confederacy.

McKenny knew Ross well and obviously held him in high regard. His contemporaneous discription is highly relevant, and highlighting that phrase offers readers insight into Ross' leadership.

This morning I cleaned up this article and changed the person infobox into the Native American leader infobox that might be useful for other Cherokee leaders. IMHO, although the lede is much too long (and basically unsourced), I put the problematic "Cherokee Moses" subsection (re-added by someone who didn't sign their posts) into two chronological subsections within the article's body. Some fit into the early and family life section, but much didn't. Frankly, an alternate would have been to move this paragraph into the second lede paragraph and take out most everything else--and put it into the body despite the relative lack of footnotes. Right now, I'm not in a library and don't have time to do the necessary research, so mostly differentiated between section and subsections, as well as took out many passive constructions.Jweaver28 (talk) 16:31, 23 April 2017 (UTC)


I have return the fact the City of Chattanooga has named the Market Street Bridge after Ross to a Triva section. This information really has no place in the conclusion which is better suited for summing up Ross' life and leadership. While I think it is meaningful that Ross' life has been comemorated in this way, this information comes off as more triva than pertinent historical information which is the thrust of the entire article leading up to and including the conclusion.

GA fail[edit]

I'm sorry to inform the editors of this article that I am quickfailing its Good Article nomination due to inadequate referencing. Here are some things to do before renomination:

  • Per WP:LEAD, the lead should be about two or three full paragraphs summarizing all the main points of the article.
  • There are entire sections and paragraphs without a single reference. Everything must be cited.
  • There are some WP:MOS issues. I'd suggest getting someone from WikiProject:League of Copyeditors to look it over.
  • Full dates should be wikilinked: May 19 2008.
  • Don't name a section "Conclusion". That makes it sound more like an essay for class than an encyclopedia article.
  • The books in the "Further reading" need isbn numbers.
  • Merge or delete the trivia per WP:TRIVIA.

Another good idea is to get a peer review. They will help with more specific changes to make. Good luck. Nikki311 06:51, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Full-blood/half-blood issues[edit]

The article mentions strong dissension between full-blood and half-blood Cherokees, and suggests it's related to slaveholding, but never explains what it was about. This needs fuller explanation and sourcing.--Parkwells (talk) 15:12, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

After Removal[edit]

One sentence? In the Indian Territory, Ross helped draft a constitution for the entire Cherokee nation in 1839, and was chosen as chief of the nation. What about the conflicts between the three groups of Cherokee -- the Old Settlers, the Treaty Supporters, and the Treaty opponents led by Ross, a numerical but violent majority. Conflict, violence and murder almost to the point of Civil war! This lasted until 1846, when the three parties, and associated fringe groups, finally came to a truce and established a government. See: Treaty of New Echota/Enforcement. Needs a serious effort at expansion. WBardwin (talk) 04:36, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

Orphaned references in John Ross (Cherokee chief)[edit]

I check pages listed in Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting to try to fix reference errors. One of the things I do is look for content for orphaned references in wikilinked articles. I have found content for some of John Ross (Cherokee chief)'s orphans, the problem is that I found more than one version. I can't determine which (if any) is correct for this article, so I am asking for a sentient editor to look it over and copy the correct ref content into this article.

Reference named "nhlsum":

I apologize if any of the above are effectively identical; I am just a simple computer program, so I can't determine whether minor differences are significant or not. AnomieBOT 06:26, 10 December 2011 (UTC)

John Ross and the Cherokee clan system[edit]

John Ross grew up and lived in the household of Daniel Ross, a Scots-Irish trader and assistant of John MacDonald, also a trader and later British Superintendent for Indian Affairs. His grandmother, Daniel's wife, was Anne Shorey, and his mother had grown up in his grandfather's household. Neither his mother nor his grandmother were part of any clan system, at least not in Cherokee terms. In terms of European methods of determining relationship, perhaps, but not according to the Cherokee. Until striking out on his own, John lived in his father's household, went to white schools, and spoke only a few words of Cherokee. He had some dealings with MacDonald not because he was his maternal grandfather but because he was his father's business associate. The one and only reason to mention the clan system is not because it is in any way relevant to John Ross but because one is attempting to push an idea that really is not valid. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 17:54, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

To recap and focus, the article originally read "As his mother was part Cherokee and belonged to the tribe, Ross belonged to her clan; the people had a matrilineal system." You deleted this twice, while commenting the edit summary: "(Same with Vann. By the time Ross was around, there wasn't much of a clan system, and had little to with his mother's "clan". Neither did she, since she was the daughter of John McDonald and Anne Shorey.)" Instead of continuing to revert, I simply supplied his clan with a reference to return focus on John Ross. The initial sentence is easy to cite: "As his mother was part Cherokee and belonged to the tribe, Ross belonged to her clan; the people had a matrilineal system," as is the sentence I added about him being Bird Clan. Secondary sources published in books include: Mankiller and Wallis (1999) 85, Flint (2010) 17,Morrison et al (2000) 116, Hicks (2011) 162, Battey (2010) 386, Johnston (2003) xii, Bowes and Rosier (2007) 59, etc. So if you wished to add an alternative viewpoint to the information now cited in the article, such as John Ross did have a clan or the clan system was defunct during his life, such an addition would require a reliable source. Reiterating an unsourced opinion isn't a substitute for citations. -Uyvsdi (talk) 04:10, 13 December 2011 (UTC)Uyvsdi
Ok. It would put things in a more proper perspective if we traced descent back to the last person with a known clan affiliation, such as Ross' great-grandmother, William Shorey's wife Ghigooie. Anne Shorey and Mollie MacDonald never lived with the clan and were only members in a technical sense, but they were still members. If we are going to mention clans, though, we should mention the Act of Oblivion that was passed in 1807 and reaffirmed and expanded in 1810. Major Ridge was one of its chief sponsors and Vann one of its chief backers. Mooney deals with it, and when I mention it in the articles, I will cite him. Those two laws abolished the law of retaliation and forbade killing of person who didn't actually commit a murder. Between that and the fact that the majority of persons in the Upper and Lower Towns were patrilocal rather than matrilocal, in nuclear families like whites, the clan system didn't amount to much. Inheritance was treated in the same manner as in white communities rather than through any clan; that much I can prove using your sources. At least as far as Ross, Ridge, and Vann are concerned. They may (or may not) have had a clan affiliation, but even if they acknowledged it, it was no more than that of membership in a Scottish clan of today.
Btw, I checked online and Major Ridge's wife, Susannah Catherine Wickett, or at least her mother, was Wild Potato. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 05:32, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
You should find the following link interesting, page 2: Chuck Hamilton (talk) 16:43, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
An actual secondary source – not known its scholarship or objectivity; however, it is published. I assume you are referring page two "The First Printed Law" on page 2, discussing the outlawing of clan blood law, passed into the law "by the order of the seven clans" (2). The Wikipedia article doesn't mention blood law and the Observer article doesn't imply an end to clans. Regarding Mooney, none of his books address John Ross' clan affiliation or supposed lack thereof. -Uyvsdi (talk) 18:29, 13 December 2011 (UTC)Uyvsdi
There were two primary functions of the Cherokee clan system: distribution of property and protection of its members. In the Upper Towns of North Georgia and Southeast Tennessee as well as in the Lower Towns of Southeast Tennessee and Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia, the old system regarding property was falling apart long before the end of the wars, especially among the leaders of the militant Cherokee, who became the wealthiest men in the Nation, in their own right not that of their wives or of their clan. The other function, that of protection, was abolished by the 1808 law. No doubt the old ways lived on longer among the Hill and Valley Towns of western North Carolina and in such places as the full-blood town Etowah or up in Ellijay where Whitepath's rebellion was centered, but among the "young chiefs" the new order prevailed. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 19:50, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
I changed the three articles we've been discussing so that the names of the clans link directly to the Wikipedia article on Cherokee clans. That, I think, is a more proper way to draw attention to the Cherokee clan system as you clearly wish to do. I did provide that citations of Mooney and the Cherokee Observer; however, since I have not made assertions in that regard within the articles themselves, it is not something I am required to do. I appreciate the sources you have provided on the ancestry of these men, particularly that of James Vann, but the ones about Cherokee clans belong more to that article, unless they could demonstrate how the clan system relates specifically to these young chiefs. I suggest you read Cherokee Tragedy: The Ridge Family and the Decimation of a People; the relevant portions, timewise, of Old Frontiers: The Story of the Cherokee Indians from Earliest Times to the Date of Their Removal to the West, 1838; The Cherokee Indian Nation: A Troubled History; The Journal of Major John Norton; the relevant portions of History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee; Cherokee Cavaliers; and, especially, Cherokee Renascence in the New Republic, for an accurate picture of the realities of Cherokee society in the early 19th century, in particular regarding the so-called "young chiefs". Chuck Hamilton (talk) 20:28, 13 December 2011 (UTC)
" you clearly wish to do" - no, I don't especially want to call attentioned to Cherokee clans (that article is a trainwreck). I just don't want a POV original research suppressing referenced facts. Putting "Mooney p. 39" is not properly referencing, as the man wrote more than one book. You didn't mention which article in the Cherokee Observer you were referencing but the Blood Law article on page 2 doesn't say the clan system was finished and the State of Sequoyah article on page 3 mentioned the matrilineal nature of the tribe in the 20th century, completely substantiating the sentence you tried to remove. Mentioning an individual clan on an individual's Wikipedia article, especially when it's easily cited, is entirely appropriate as it's part of their biography. -Uyvsdi (talk) 21:01, 13 December 2011 (UTC)Uyvsdi
I said the article about the Act of Oblivion was on page 2, and it was. Actually, all the article does is state that a matrilineal system exists and clearly refers to it only in the context of preserving women's suffrage within the Cherokee Nation. There is no mention of inheritance, property, or protection. Also, the part you included about hereditary leadership is complete fiction. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 21:55, 13 December 2011 (UTC)

As this article stands now, I'm fine with it (of course it can be improved but on the subject in question), since the uncited opinions are limited to the edit summaries and talk page, instead of the main article. -Uyvsdi (talk) 16:30, 14 December 2011 (UTC)Uyvsdi

Cool. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 22:37, 14 December 2011 (UTC)


I removed this uncited quote from the main article because I can't find it anywhere online except Wikipedia mirror sites. Here it is so if anyone can reference it, then it can be returned to the article.

In his final annual message on October 1865, Ross assessed the Cherokee experience during the Civil War and his performance as chief. The Cherokee could "have the proud satisfaction of knowing that we honestly strove to preserve the peace within our borders, but when this could not be done,...borne a gallant part in the defense...of the cause which has been crowned with such signal success."[citation needed]

-Uyvsdi (talk) 16:30, 14 December 2011 (UTC)Uyvsdi

I agree with the deletion, because of the lack of citation still after three years, and because its inclusion creates POV problems. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 22:36, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

Hereditary leadership[edit]

This source published by University of Oklahoma Press said that Pathkiller was the last hereditary leader of the Cherokee, and that Hicks was the first chief to have any European ancestry.[1] Parkwells (talk) 02:44, 15 December 2011 (UTC)


As Uyvsdi noted above, numerous sources of the last decade all note the clan membership of both The Ridge and Ross, in part saying it was a major part of what made them Cherokee to other members of the tribe. Parkwells (talk) 03:45, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

The most important functions of the clans were protection through the threat of retaliation and control of property. The Act of Oblivion in 1808 pushed by James Vann, The Ridge, and Charles Hicks put an end to the first, and James Vann's will destroyed the second. In fact, the Act of Oblivion (The Cherokee Observer, Vol. 15, No. 14 & 15, 2007, pg. 2, column 1: refers to children being heirs of their father's property and details how a father, not the clan, can bequeath his property after his death. After that, more so after the full National Council put its stamp on the Act two years later, the clan system existed in name only. There is no evidence to show that The Ridge ever lived with his wife's clan. After the Chickamauga Wars, The Ridge established a plantation near Oothcaloga, then at Head of Coosa, near Chatuga and the plantation of his protoge, John Ross, with said properties being in his name, as were those of Ross. Of the latter there is no doubt that he never at any time lived with his mother's clan. Your statement is without foundation. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 04:43, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Clarification: I didn't say he lived with his mother's clan, but that those numerous sources agree in saying that at the time, he was identified as being of his mother's clan by the Cherokee. They are not commenting on the strength of the clan system but suggesting it was stil part of his identity, as perceived by at least some of the people. Parkwells (talk) 14:01, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Ok, I accept that, but I'd love to see sources. This discussion had gotten my interest up on the clan system.. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 16:26, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Uysvdi listed several sources above that identify Ross and his clan.Parkwells (talk) 04:54, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
The above was what a lot of the reason for the Ghost Dance Movement among the Cherokee in 1811 and White Path's Rebellion of 1824-1828, traditionalists rebelling against the New Order and calling for a return to the clan system. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 05:18, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
The National Council was established as the national government in 1794, but didn't become effective as such until 1809, the same year the National Committee was established. The Lighthorse Guard had been authorized in 1808. The Cherokee Supreme Court was established in 1822, along with the eight judicial-legislative districts. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 05:54, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Yes, there was a lot of change and turmoil, and political changes leading up to the election of Ross. Some people called for a return to traditional ways. Scholars disagree about whether there was a Ghost Dance movement in 1811-1812; Michelene E. Pesantubbee is a professor of American Indian studies at the University of Iowa who specializes in Native American religious traditions. "In “When the Earth Shakes: The Cherokee Prophecies of 1811-1812” American Indian Quarterly (1993), Pesanttubbee took a closer look at the evidence and concluded that there was no “Ghost Dance” movement per se among the Cherokees. Unlike McLaughlin, she also felt that the Cherokee incidents were, in part, fueled by rumors about the Shawnee movement led by Tecumseh."Parkwells (talk) 14:11, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
You're either George Ellison or you plagiarized an article he wrote word for word from the column he wrote "second of two parts" on the movement for the Smoky Mountain News ( I prefer William McLouglin, but more so James Mooney and Thomas McKenney, whose informants were not only James Wofford and Major Ridge, but the Moravian Brethren and their records. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 16:26, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
Ellison was plagiarizing himself. I quoted that section from here <://>.Parkwells (talk) 04:54, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
My apologies, I didn't see the quotation marks before. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 05:21, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
If you're interested in McLouglin's essay and have not read it yourself, you can find it here in its entirety, complete with appendices: Chuck Hamilton (talk) 16:54, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

Every considered just starting a blog? In the meantime, POV original research is still not appropriate in Wikipedia, regarding: "The most important functions of the clans were protection through the threat of retaliation and control of property" is your interpretation, until realiable sources are furnished; and then it's just one interpretation. Clans are primarily a kinship system as they in most other tribes – Muscogee Creek, Seminole, Yuchi, etc. — according such divergent sources as Robert Conley 14, Strum 31; Perdue 42; The Tahlequah Daily Press, etc. -Uyvsdi (talk) 17:27, 15 December 2011 (UTC)Uyvsdi

There is a difference between the Article and its Discussion page. This is the Discussion page. The Discussion page is for Discussion and debate, not for supplying citations and references except to bolster one's argument, and even then that choice is up to the editor. Likewise, your arguments about OR are inot relevant here because the Discussion page is not the Article page, where citations are strongly recommended and OR is forbidden. Speaking of clans, I have yet to see any material offered to support the contention that their clans were important to any of these "young chiefs" under discussion or that the Cherokee clan system survives today. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 18:59, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
I gather you don't actually click on or read any of the links. -Uyvsdi (talk) 19:34, 15 December 2011 (UTC)Uyvsdi
I'm well aware of what clans are, and that every nation had/has them. You do not seem aware of what functions Cherokee clans performed for their members regarding, protection, retaliation, and property, at least prior to the end of the 18th, opening of the 19th century. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 00:21, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
Besides, those references are extremely limited. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 02:09, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
I don't think either Uyvsdi or I made a "contention that the clans were important to the 'young chiefs' or that the system survives today." That is not in the text under discussion. I included the material about the matrilineal system and clan because it was in the sources I cited; it seemed appropriate detail to add to the context. Neither of us rated how important it was to Ross himself, nor do I think anyone can say that it had no influence on anyone at the time. The clan system might have changed, but people use many elements to make alliances. Greg O'Brien makes the point that in the matrilineal Choctaw tribe, the mixed-blood chiefs were Choctaw first, that they belonged to their mother's people and cared about the tribe. Ross appeared to, even if he used his position for personal wealth and power. But isn't that the case with most political leaders? The Choctaw were making similar political changes to those of the Cherokee; O'Brien makes the point that Choctaw chiefs recognized the advantage of using such mixed-race elite men as "trailblazers into an unprecedented universe of capitalist accumulation and renewable wealth." [2] He suggests that the young mixed-race men were creoles, in the sense of combining aspects of both cultures to create something new and point to the future. Similarly, Pathkiller and Hicks of the Cherokee identified and mentored Ross for future leadership.Parkwells (talk) 04:54, 16 December 2011 (UTC)
All anyone needs to prove that clans remained and still remain important to Cherokee identity is point at the seal of the Cherokee Nation. There's no disputing that, just as there is no disputing that clan membership is a big part of Scottish identity, to such an extent that the West and South Asians immigrants in Scotland banded together to form the Clan Singh, complete with their own chief, tartan, music, coat-of-arms, and yes, it is recognized by the Lord Lyon King of Arms. However, before the first decade of the 19th century, the clan system served more pragmatic purposes also, just as clans did in Scotland before the Rising of the '45 and more so before the infiltration of Norman feudalism. Chuck Hamilton (talk) 05:38, 16 December 2011 (UTC)


Very nice conclusion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Edibobb (talkcontribs) 21:01, 4 April 2012 (UTC)

Unsourced statement removal[edit]

I have been unable to find a citation for the following statement about Justice McLean's advice, therefore I have removed it. Bruin2 (talk) 18:00, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

Although Ridge and Ross agreed on this point, they clashed about how best to serve the Cherokee Nation.[citation needed]

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  1. ^ Arrell Morgan Gibson, Oklahoma, A History of Five Centuries, University of Oklahoma Press, 1981, p. 65
  2. ^ Greg O'Brien, Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750-1830, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005, p. 103